© Central Gurdwara Resource Centre 1998
The opinions expressed are not those of the editors or of the management of the Gurdwara
20-23 JULY 1998
for 16 yrs plus
Jointly organised with the Army.
Activities will include riding armoured cars, sniper stalk, paintballing, assault course,
discussion groups on history, meditation. You do not have to be mega-fit. You need an open
mind and a desire to have some fun. Cost is £30-00 including accomodation, food etc.
CAMP PIONEER II
23-28 AUGUST 1998
The scouting camp, canoeing, archery, shooting, camp fires and sports day. Meditation, history and the Sikh Way of Life. Cost £40-00 including accomodation, food.etc.
Sikhism for Today by Kanwaljit Kaur-Singh
published by Oxford University Press
This new book is an excellent introduction to the Sikh way of Life today, buy looking at the common practices and celebrations, the teachings of the Gurus, and their ideas about their responsibilities. to society.
It is illustrated with many colourful pictures and is well written, both for young Sikhs and Non-Sikhs.
We have a small quantity of books available for sale at £5-00, please contact by phone: 0171 460 2020
or email: [email protected]
Sikhs played a very active role in fighting the Second World War, approximately 1.5 million Sikhs fought to defend the world as we know it now. This is a huge figure considering that the entire Sikh population at that time was about 10-12 million. Sikh men and women, signed up with the British Indian Army to fight against injustice and risked, or gave, their own lives to ensure the freedom of others.
This fighting spirit of sacrifice has been a distinct feature of Sikhs the world over, but looking around now, we see fewer and fewer Sikhs willing to join the armed forces, and more preferred careers are in Accountancy, Law, Medicine or in business. In fact spending a few years in the Armed Forces can leave you in good stead for later life and can help in progressing your career. The two main routes into the forces are as school leavers at 16-18 years old or after graduating it is possible to join as an officer. The forces also require trained dentists, doctors and other professionals.
Camp Pathfinder II is being organised jointly between the Akaal Purkh Ki Fauj and the Army. As well as Gurmat, the camp will give the participants an insight into Army Life and Activities. Maybe we will learn what has attracted so many Sikhs of the past to this career.
This months magazine covers the life of Bhai Gurdas and includes a translation of one of his verses. In our Poets Corner we present 3 poems by Prof. Puran Singh who was one of the great Sikh poets, I hope you find these interesting and will make efforts to find other books by him.
Bhai Gurdas is considered the first interpreter of Gurbani. His writings are considered key to understanding the Sikh holy scriptures. He wrote 40 vars (ballads) and 556 kabits (both forms of Punjabi poetry). These writings are considered the best specimens of Sikh literature and philosophy. He also had the opportunity to be the scribe of Guru Granth Sahib or Adi Granth, the holiest Sikh scripture that was compiled by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Sikh Guru, in 1604.
The exact date of birth of Bhai Gurdas is not known but it is somewhere between 1543-1553 A.D.
Bhai Gurdas became a Sikh under the kind influence of Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru in 1579 AD. Bhai Gurdas was the cousin brother of Mata Bhani, the mother of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Bhai Gurdas received his early education under the guidance of Guru Amar Das. Bhai Gurdas travelled to far away places like Agra, Lucknow, Burhanpur, and Rajasthan to spread Gurus word under the direction of Guru Amar Das.
Bhai Gurdas came back to Punjab after Guru Ram Das left for heavenly abode. He had the opportunity to study and observe Sikhism closely in the company of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Bhai Gurdas also played a key role in the construction of the Harimandir Sahib (Golden Temple Amritsar).
This was a very difficult time for the fifth Guru as his own brother Pirthi Chand was very jealous of him. At the same time the Muslim ruler Jahangir had become jealous of growing popularity of Sikhism and Guru Arjan Dev Ji. He wanted to put an end to it. This was a period of great challenges and difficulties for the Sikhs. Bhai Gurdas was the first custodian of the Akal Bunga (Akal Takhat Sahib). Baba Buddha Ji was the first Granthi of the Harimandir Sahib. During the time of Guru Har Gobind Sahib, Bhai Gurdas went to many far away places like Kabul, Kanshi, Banaras, to spread the message of the Guru. The Sikh congregation was so impressed by Bhai Gurdas they that erected a Gurdwara in his memory in Kabul.
Bhai Gurdas passed away some time between 1629 and 1637 AD at Goindwal. Guru Har Gobind Sahib personally cremated his body. Bhai Gurdas had the good fortune to have had the the company of four Gurus.
Bhai Gurdass Contribution to Sikh Literature
The compilation of Guru Granth Sahib was completed in 1601. It took almost 11 years to complete this task. Bhai Gurdas not only wrote the Adi Granth as dictated by Guru Arjan Dev, he also supervised the writings of four other scribes, namely Bhai Haria, Bhai Sant Das, Bhai Sukha and Bhai Manasa Ram who were writing various Sikh scriptures.
Bhai Gurdas was not only an interpreter of Sikh scriptures and preacher of Sikhism, he was a walking encyclopaedia of Sikhism.
Bhai Gurdas was a great scholar of Persian and Sankrit and of comparative religion. He was a poet of superb beauty. His most famous compositions are Vars, (Punjabi ballads, 40 in number).
Bhai Gurdas as a Sikh Historian
Bhai Gurdas has documented the Sikh history in his writings and has solved some of the historical riddles about Guru Nanak Devs visit to Mecca, Medina, and other parts of the world:
Fir Baba gaya Baghdad no bahar jae kiya asthana |
Then Baba (Guru Nanak Dev Ji) went to Baghdad and camped outside the city. In addition to Baba Nanak, who was a Divine personality, Mardana, the musician also went along.
Bhai Gurdass Account of Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev
Guru Arjan Dev was martyred as per orders of emperor Jahangir on May 30, 1606. Jahangir wrote in his Tuzak-i-Jahangiri only 20 days after the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev that he ordered his execution.
Bhai Gurdas had documented the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev as follows:
Rehnde Gur dariayo vich, meen kuleen het nirbani |
To achieve martyrdom, Guru Arjan Dev ji immersed in the God-like ocean
like a fish. The Guru merged into the heavenly light like the moth that immolates itself
after seeing the light.
adapted from an article by Tarlochan Singh
Salutation to the Guru who blessed us with the mantra of of the True Name and emancipated us, ferrying us across the Sea of material existence.
Bhai Gurdas Var 1, Pauri 1
This month we present a translation of a section of writing by Bhai Gurdas Ji. This is not Gurbani as it is not included in the Guru Granth Sahib, but Sikhs respect the writings of Bhai Gurdas as Guru Arjun Dev Ji is said to have stated that these writings contain the Key to the Guru Granth Sahib.
This is pauri number 6 from Vaar number 9
In this pauri Bhai Ji is explaining in such beautiful language how Waheguru is within us all. Like a mirror shows us a reflection, God is reflected within each one of us. We are part of this wonderful Creation, in which the creator also resides. As a still pool of water reflects the moon, the moon is there even when the water is agitated. As ghee exists within milk, as a fragrance in a flower, we cannot see the power of God, but we can experience God. Bhai Ji says only the Gurmukh realises God's presence. A Gurmukh is one who turns his attention towards the Greater Reality rather than merely fulfilling his own selfish needs. The spiritual journey is that of realising God, this should be the goal of every Sikh. God is within us all, equally in all people, the decision is ours to rise above simply fulfilling our ego's, and to realise that there is more to life than buying that new watch or car or whatever. The spiritual journey rewards us by freeing us from our own ego. Realising God within us can bring satisfaction beyond that of worldly pleasures.
What makes a person free and empowered to do the right things. Why do so many kind good intentioned people around us fail to take stands on issues that affect people near and far? Why is a person working for a company/organisation that promotes products or policies that can affect other peoples lives adversely, feel disempowered to act ?
This disempowerment obviously has to do with our insecurities. What insecurities ? If a person could feel free to speak their mind without fear of retribution, they would probably do so. If losing a job never meant loosing their means to support their family, people would be empowered and organisations would be forced to never take actions that are to the detriment of larger society. Companies should be able to make an honest profit from ventures that are more benevolent in nature and towards nature.
One model of lifestyle that immediately comes to mind is that of the old Punjab. I am speaking of a simpler time, before TV and bottled beverages hit the market just in reach of the common man. Many working people, (teachers, small business owners, and to include a uniquely Punjabi profession, "oberseers" etc.) had some inherited land which they would tend in their spare time. No matter what happened to them in their jobs/businesses, they could always make at least a survival living off the land. Guru Nanak also tended his farms in the latter years of his life. People also had some sort of minimal weapons training be it from army relatives or elders. And to complete the picture there was an unfaltering belief in Waheguru as the Guide, Protector and Benevolent force behind the universe.
Think about how you can be more empowered to Live a Truthful Life, at one with nature, the environment and with the rest of humanity.
The thread of life is in His hands;
The chaste abandon of the blossomed sarson*
*sarson are yellow flowers which grow in the Punjab during the winter
The poor people and God
HIS love feeds all; He provides for the smallest bud
Prof. Puran Singh
These poems do need to be read carefully to understand their true meaning, take the final poem as an example. Prof. Puran Singh has compared how God looks after all people with a creeper plant growing up a thorny bush. God provides all for the plant to grow, even when it is in a difficult situation. And the plant is happy growing on the thorns, because God has provided all for it to flourish.
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